zen habits : breathe

A Guide to Finding Calm & Being Less Frustrated

By Leo Babauta

One of the most common sources of difficulty for most of us is frustration – we can get frustrated with the smallest things, throughout the day.

And yet, becoming aware of how often we’re frustrated doesn’t quite solve the problem. Someone pointing out that you’re frustrated only makes you more irritated.

How can we let go of our frustrations, and find calm?

How can we bring ourselves to peace when our emotions have been triggered?

The answer doesn’t lie in the external — we can’t make things around us less frustrating. We might fruitlessly hope for things like:

And so on. As you might guess, it’s not possible to make all of these things come true. We can’t control other people, world events, even ourselves much of the time. Things just won’t go the way we’d like.

And when things don’t go the way we’d like … we get frustrated. We can’t solve the problem by trying to fix the external situation.

The answer has to come from within.

Starting to Change the Inner Response

I know, when someone else is being rude, it’s frustrating to think that we have to be the ones to change our response. Why can’t they just change the way they act? Well, we already know how that goes — we can’t get them to change, so we’ll just be frustrated.

So again, we have to accept the fact that the solution to our frustration lies only within.

If you’re up for inner change, then starts with this process:

So there’s a Trigger (external situation that we don’t like) and a Pattern (our habitual response to the Trigger), and then a Result from the Pattern (frustration, unhappiness, lashing out, worse relationship).

Now ask yourself: Do you want to continue to get this result? Is it a desirable result? Is the Pattern helpful to you?

If it’s not a helpful Pattern, you can start to create a new one.

Creating a New Pattern

What Pattern would be more helpful to you?

You might consider one like this: “This (person/situation) isn’t what I want. I wonder if I can open up to it and be curious about it? I wonder if there’s a way to be grateful for this moment I’ve been given? I wonder if I can find a way to love this moment, in all its entirety.”

This Pattern might be more helpful. Try it and see. If not, create your own Pattern.

Then start to ingrain the Pattern, replacing the old one. It takes practice, so don’t expect to be perfect at it (at all).

Here’s how to practice with the new Pattern:

If the Result is better, then maybe continue to practice this. If not, make a new Pattern and try that.

This takes practice. It takes remembering, so put up reminder notes anywhere you can, and forgive yourself if you forget.

Be patient with yourself, and see this as a loving act for yourself. See it as a way to reduce your frustration and unhappiness, and to find peace and calm instead. What a beautiful thing to do for yourself, and the ones you love!

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We’ll work on the main obstacle to finding focus and simplicity, to reducing procrastination, to finding calm and mindfulness and overcoming stress. It’ll be awesome, come play with me!



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